Description: This long sleeve floor length pink polyester empire-waist gown with rhinestone buttons has a zip and three hooks in the back. There is a fabric label reading “Vogue, Paris Original” inside the dress.
Object History: In 2013, Maxine Brown Davis (1952-) donated this dress to the Museum, along with a number of other items of clothing. Many of the dresses, including this one, were made for Ms. Davis when she was a teenager and young adult by Rosabelle Waddell.
Rosabelle Johnson Waddell was born on May 14, 1914 and died January 27, 1977. Mrs. Waddell lived at 806 South 16th Street, with her husband Walter. The Waddells came to Wilmington during World War II, and Walter worked at the ship yard.
According to the donor, Mrs. Waddell worked as a seamstress out of her home. After Maxine’s mother, Lula Mae Nance, died when she was just nine years old, Mrs. Waddell promised Maxine’s father that Maxine and her sister would always have clothes, and she made a number of pieces that Maxine kept for forty years before she donated them to the Museum .
In April 1969, she wore this dress to her John T. Hoggard High School junior prom. Hoggard’s 1969 junior prom was held at the Cape Fear Hotel in downtown Wilmington.
General History: Maxine Brown was a sophomore at Williston Senior High School in 1968. Brown changed schools over that summer because Williston, the local African American high school, was closed and students were sent to John T. Hoggard High School (opened in 1967) and New Hanover High School. Williston was closed by the school board as a response to a court order that declared the county school system was an “unconstitutional racially dual school system.”
Ms. Davis went on to be one of the first African Americans to attend UNC Chapel Hill and had a successful career at Proctor and Gamble.